FORT LAUDERDALE — A $3 million Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) contract for squad cars was awarded through a no-bid process in which the recipient was provided a copy of a competitor’s quote beforehand, a South Florida Times investigation has found.
Maroone Ford, located in Fort Lauderdale, received the contract for 130 cars in January 2009. The company was given a copy of a quote BSO obtained from Duval Ford of Jacksonville for the same kind of vehicles, which Maroone used to prepare its own successful quote.
Details of the transaction were culled from internal BSO documents the South Florida Times obtained through public records requests.
Those documents also show BSO paid Maroone an additional $93,000 above Duval Ford’s quote, by applying a local vendor preference policy intended to reward Broward-based firms with bids up to 5 percent more that out-of-town competitors.
As a constitutional office holder, Lamberti does have the authority to set procurement policies for his agency, including awarding no-bid contracts.
Asked about the contract and the process used to award it, BSO Media Relations Director Jim Leljedal requested that all questions be submitted by e-mail. After the questions were submitted, Leljedal declined to comment, responding in an e-mail, “We’re done with this.”
The internal documents show BSO staff contacted Duval Ford and obtained a quote of $21,718 for each car. That quote was then provided to Maroone, which used it to calculate its final price of $22,434.30, which was 3.3 percent higher than Duval Ford’s.
Officials with Duval Ford have said they were unaware their quote had been provided to a competitor.
“While we were not aware that the Broward Sheriff’s office provided our bid information to our competitors, some of the information is in the Sunshine and available publically,” Duval Ford’s attorney Alexander McRae Graham, said in a previous e-mail to South Florida Times. “We respect the Broward Sheriff’s office’s ability to choose a vendor that best suits their needs in the bid process.”
However, there was never any bidding process, BSO officials have confirmed.
Michael Albetta, business development manager at Maroone, has previously said Glen Carpenter, then a fleet manager with the company, negotiated the contract with BSO. Carpenter has since left the company and could not be reached for comment.
During a previous interview, Albetta said he believed the contract was awarded through a competitive bidding process and expressed doubt that Maroone was given a copy of Duval Ford’s quote.
“Yes, I remember the bid and we were successful, but we didn’t get anyone else’s bid and we never saw it,” Albetta said at the time. “We never get to see anyone else’s bid.”
The internal documents indicate otherwise.
A three-page letter dated Dec. 22, 2008, which Maroone Ford sent to BSO, provides a detailed cost comparison between the two dealerships. One page has the subheading, “Break Down of Cost Between FSA (Duval Ford) and Maroone Ford of Fort Lauderdale.”
The letter also has the quote Duval Ford submitted to BSO attached as “Exhibit 1.” It has both Carpenter's and Albetta’s names on it, but is unsigned. BSO has not responded to questions about the lack of signatures.
Maroone was granted the contract a month later.
“In implementing this procedure, the Purchasing Bureau secured a quotation for the purchase of pursuit vehicles from Duval Ford in Jacksonville, Florida, the low bidder for said vehicles on the FSA [Florida Sheriff’s Association] contract. Maroone Ford, a local Broward County vendor, was contacted and supplied a price for the identical vehicles,” states the memo, which has Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti’s signature authorizing the contract award to Maroone.
According to the BSO local preference policy, the five percent variance is supposed to apply only when contracts for goods or services are “competitively bid,” which the $3 million squad cars contract given to Maroone was not.
The policy was implemented at a time when Lamberti announced lay offs amid pressure to cut $54 million from his $700 million annual budget.